Social Robots and Ambient Assisted Living (suitable for multiple students)

I am willing to discuss and supervise projects in the area of social robots and cognitive robotic environments for independent living.
These project covers a wide range of topics and can be easily modified to match the interests of the student who decides to work on them.

Caring for older people, particularly those with disabilities, places a significant strain on the economy. Robots and autonomous systems, combined with AI, smart-home environments and connected data systems have the potential to revolutionise the future provision of social care, and ultimately create connected care ecosystem linking home, residential and hospital care as a continuum [1]. These technologies could assist professional carers to be more efficient, allowing them to focus more on the human-to-human aspects of their work. ICT and Robotic systems are currently being developed to provide general assistance around the home, for instance, performing household chores and assuring safety, but they also have the potential to reduce social isolation, support cognitive stimulation and rehabilitation practices, and even assist directly with physical aspects of care including help with personal mobility, eating and drinking, dressing, and toileting [2][3].

Projects of interest include:
• Applications of machine learning techniques for unobtrusive, indoor localization and automatic recognition of activities of daily living from robot and/or ambient sensors [4].
• Developing applications to promote cognitive and physical activities for elderly people, using the humanoid robot Pepper [8] and new cloud-based software development environments (
• Design and implementation of a robotic punchbag supporting physical and cognitive exercise, specifically targeting adults who would not ordinarily access health and wellness activities. The student will build on a existing Arduino-driven hardware prototype and a mobile (Android) app. This project is a collaboration with Better:Gen (
• Develop user interfaces, including using voice assistants, such as Alexa echo and Google Home, and friendly programming tools to enable non-technical users to easily program their smart home and domestic robots to provide personalised services and/or carry out new tasks (e.g. to help with daily activities, give remainders, fetch objects, etc..)

Students working in these projects will avail of a state-of-the-art laboratory used for international competitions of assistive robotics [6]. The laboratory is part of a UK network of “home lab” test-bed facilities that includes similar facilities in the UK and in the EU. The laboratory at Heriot-Watt University is a 60 square meters, fully sensorised smart robotic space designed to resemble a typical single level home comprising an open-plan living, dining and kitchen area and a bathroom and bedroom. It has recently been equipped with software and hardware to support remote programming of robots and smart home [13]. The apartment is equipped with a motion capturing system, an RFID floor, state of the art smart home, augmented reality technology and domestic robots [7-10]. The projects will offer opportunities for collaboration with research partners, and also with care providers in Scotland.

[1] Robotics in Social Care: A Connected Care EcoSystem for Independent Living, UK-RAS White Paper, Online at, Accessed 10/15/2017
[2] M. Dragone, et. al, A cognitive robotic ecology approach to self-configuring and evolving AAL systems. Eng. Appl. Artif. Intell. 45, C (October 2015), 269-280.
[3] M. Dragone, J Saunders, K Dautenhahn, On the integration of adaptive and interactive robotic smart spaces, Paladyn, Journal of Behavioral Robotics, 2015
[4] Giuseppe Amato, Davide Bacciu, Stefano Chessa, Mauro Dragone, Claudio Gallicchio, Claudio Gennaro, Héctor Lozano Peiteado, Alessio Micheli, Gregory M. P. O'Hare, Arantxa Rentería, Claudio Vairo: A Benchmark Dataset for Human Activity Recognition and Ambient Assisted Living. ISAmI 2016: 1-9
[5] Parra, Mario Alfredo, et al. "UNVEILING THE COGNITIVE UNDERPINNINGS OF INSTRUMENTAL ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING ACROSS AGE." Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association 14.7 (2018): P1301.
[7] PAL Robotics’ Tiago,, accessed 10/15/2017
[8] Softbank Robotics’ Pepper,, accessed 10/15/2017
[9] Double Robotics - Telepresence Robot,, accessed 10/15/2017
[10], accessed 10/15/2017
[12] Dimitrios Kourtis et al. “Attention allocation and taskrepresentation during joint action planning”. In:Jour-nal of Cognitive Neuroscience26.10 (2014), pp. 2275–2286.

Supervisor name: 
Mauro Dragone
Supervisor and Deputy email addresses:
Project location: 
Heriot-Watt's Ambient Assisted Living Testbed
Deputy name: 
Marta Vallejo